Adam’s children are limbs of one body
That in creation are cut from one gem.
When life and time hurt a limb,
Other limbs will not be at ease.
You who are not sad for the suffering of others,
Do not deserve to be called human.
بنیآدم اعضای یک پیکرند
که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى بهدرد آورَد روزگار
دگر عضوها را نمانَد قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بیغمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی
Nothing is more central to Iranian culture than our poetry and the way we tell our stories to each other. We weave stories into carpets, recite poems at dinner, and tell fortunes from Hafez. We blog, write, and whisper to each other. Our music is rich and layered, marrying 700-year-old poetry to modern music. Our history is one of many voices, styles, and ideas in conversation with each other over the centuries.
Poetry is just one of the ways in which we — the people who live inside the borders of the Persian cat and those who have spread out across the world – connect to and express the diversity of our culture.
The range of instruments, sounds, and systems is rich, layered, and complex. It’s a reminder that Iran is not one culture, but a vessel for many.
Traditional music offers a sense of pride, identity, and unmatched beauty. The music keeps centuries-old traditions and poetry alive and relevant.
It’s easy to see the value of diversity through the culture it creates: music, art, poetry. And yet, we aren’t all artists and musicians. Some of us are engineers, farmers, parents, cooks, or dishwashers.
The question we need to ask ourselves is how to bring the same understanding of difference to our complicated lives. How do we celebrate our complexity the way we celebrate our music and food? How can we accept and allow the everyday differences that make us human?
How do we reclaim the variety and diversity of our culture from those who seek to divide us? That’s the question we seek to respond to with our new project. The Persian name for the project translates as “The Center for the Children of Adam” and takes its name from the beautiful poem from Saadi that is inscribed on the wall of the UN. “The children of Adam are limbs of one body.”
Lately, the use of social media has made it clear that there are serious problems in the community with accepting differences. Hate speech is eroding the cohesion of Persian speaking communities all over the world. Discrimination against non-majority populations and religious minorities, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and Islamophobia, have all infected the conversations we have with each other.
The spread of Nazi propaganda translated into Persian is one manifestation of an attack on our values and society. There are many others, which Arseh Sevom will explore with its Bani Adam project.
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